Massachusetts moving to targeted, community-based vaccination efforts

Massachusetts

BOSTON (WPRI) — The state of Massachusetts is advancing to its next phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution as it approaches another milestone.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday that the state is on track to meet its goal of getting 4.1 million people vaccinated by early next month.

“According to the CDC’s data, 3.95 million people have been fully or partially vaccinated in Massachusetts, and there’s another 180,000 people who are signed up to get their first dose in the next seven days,” he said. “Since about 99% of the people who get their first dose in Massachusetts return for a second dose, that means the 4.1 million-people-vaccinated goal that we set as our target will be fully vaccinated by the beginning of June.”

Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito also announced plans to ramp down some of the state’s mass vaccination sites.

“The demand for appointment at all locations, including at mass vaccination sites, has stabilized,” Polito said.

“There are open appointments for vaccines in every part of the state,” Baker said. “If you are someone who is waiting to book your appointment when it’s easier to schedule one, this would be a really good time to sign up and get your shot.”

The mass vaccination sites at Gillette Stadium, Hynes Convention Center, the Natick Mall, and Double Tree in Danvers are expected to be closed by the end of June, according to Baker.

“The state expects to administer about 250,000 second doses in May and another 180,000 first doses over the next seven days across those sites,” the governor said.

Additionally, the state’s preregistration system will remain open so parents can use it to sign up their children once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approves the vaccine for those ages 12 and up.

“The state is anticipating that the CDC may authorize vaccines for children ages 12 through 15, and we will keep preregistration available for parents who may want to bring kids to a mass vaccination site,” Polito said.

The state will be transitioning to a more targeted distribution effort, according to Baker.

“We will shift vaccines to smaller-scale operations that can focus on particular communities or particular populations by bringing the vaccines to where people are so everyone knows they have any easy opportunity to protect themselves and their families,” he explained.

The plan includes 22 regional collaboratives and more doses to run those programs, as well as expanding the state’s mobile vaccination efforts.

“Over 21,000 doses have been administered through mobile vaccination efforts through a combination of our equity work, our health care providers, and our mass vax sites,” Baker said.

Mobile clinics in New Bedford, Fall River, Lynn and Worcester will run at local churches and temples in different languages.

“The mobile clinics have been particularly effective in our equity communities and to reach people of color,” Baker added. “So far, over 60% of vaccine recipients at these clinics have been people of color.”

One of those roving clinics opened Monday morning at La Salette Shrine in Attleboro, offering the Moderna vaccine to people 18 years of age and older.

One Attleboro resident told 12 News she felt more comfortable going to a place she’s familiar with.

“I was very excited because I didn’t want to go to Foxboro,” Jamie Scanlon said. “They [La Salette] do the lights every year. We come here and take walk around. It was very nice and less nervous.”

The site administered around 300 shots on Monday, and has the capacity of up to 750 daily.

Mayor Paul Heroux said most patients are in and out within 20 minutes.

“It’s also right on the GATRA bus line,” he noted. “It’s La Salette, which has over 100,000 visitors a year, so it has a lot of parking, so the location couldn’t be better for something like this.”

The mobile clinic will be at La Salette on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. before setting up shop in other cities like Taunton, Fall River and Somerset.

Appointments for community collaboratives can be found at vaxfinder.mass.gov.

In this next phase, the state also plans to increase access to vaccines with primary care providers by mid-May.

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